Leadership Lessons From The Least Likely To Lead

Posted on January 04, 2022

Ryan Stewman



My entire life I never viewed myself as a leader.
I’ve met a lot of amazing leaders in my life, but I never even considered for a moment that I could be a leader too. From the football quarterback in school to the shot caller in the gang, I’ve seen plenty of leaders, but I definitely never wanted to be one.
That all changed for me in 2020.
I was on a coaching call with my mentor Pastor Keith Craft, and he and I were talking about leadership. Pastor Keith is THE authority in my life when it comes to leadership. He is the man when it comes to being a real leader.
On the call, Keith was talking to me about leadership in corporate settings and I said “I’m not really a leader, I need to hire one” he paused for a second and then said, “ARE YOU FRICKEN KIDDING ME?”
Pastor Keith went on to say I have all the qualities of a leader, he saw me as a leader and he pointed out that many others looked at me as a leader.
My thoughts after Pastor Keith said that was, “if he thinks I’m a good leader and I’m not even trying, imagine what I can do with effort and focus” So I shifted my focus to leadership. I read all the books, set all the wheels in motion, and did what I had to do.
Now, I never imagined I could lead because I’m the guy to clean the mess, I’m the guy to take out the trash, I’m the guy who does the dirty work. How could I be a leader if I was the dude with my hands dirty all the damn time?
The truth is I was confusing the word Boss with Leader. I was a leader, I’m not a boss. I don’t tell people what to do, I set the example and see if they follow. Which by definition is leadership. I just never thought of it that way.
In my personal experience, leadership means culture creation. Leadership isn’t something a person does, it’s a culture created around that person. It’s not a one-dimensional relationship, that’s for bosses. Leadership is a culture that transcends dictating who does what.

A good leader will pick up trash, scoot a chair in, clean up the mess and do the work.

A great leader creates other leaders who desire to be the person to pick up the trash, scoot the chair in, and clean up the mess.


Real leadership is creating other leaders. Like I said, leadership is a culture not a role or position in life. Pastor Keith calls me “Kingmaker” and it’s my role not to just be a king, but to create other kings to align with me and serve OUR purpose together.
I still do the work, but now I ask those around me how they plan to be the leaders if they always follow me being the first one to make shit happen. If I’m always the guy who picks up the trash, what are you doing? If I’m the guy putting in the work, what do I need you for? I’m leading myself. What I need YOU for is to lead me! You be the first one to take action. The one to lead and set the example.
I instill this mindset in all my family, my employees, and of course my clients. Leadership isn’t just something for the office. Leadership is never turned off. It’s always on. It’s always your job. It’s always in demand.
Most people need to rewire their thinking around the difference between being a leader and a boss.
A boss demands respect – A leader earns it.
A boss delegates – A leader leads.
A boss lets others do the work – A leader gets in the trenches with his men
A boss fears being replaced – A leader’s job is to replace himself
A boss thrives on fear – A leader thrives on admiration
You may be a lot like I was, least likely to lead. Truth is, those of us who aren’t afraid to do the work are the ones leading the way, anyway. Think about it. I’m not wrong.
Take these personal lessons and experiences for what they are, my personal experiences and lessons. This way of thinking has dramatically changed my thinking, my culture, and ultimately my life. In less than 2 years I went from being a lonely leader of none to leading a whole ass movement!!! I did it by doing the work and leading the way, one step at a time.
If you’re reading this wondering if YOU should step up into the leadership role in your life, the answer is simple. It’s “yes” and it always will be “yes” the world needs more great leaders, will you answer the call?
Rise Above 👊🏾

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